It went pretty well in the overall. The teacher, Mrs. Dawson, was apparently a sub for several years before becoming a regular teacher and so was conscientious. Unfortunately, the instructions were hand-written and her hand-writing was hard to read.

A while back Nanani and I (and Brandon Berg) had a conversation about what elementary school students call their teacher (whether they say Mrs. even if they’re not married). Apparently, some actually say Mrs even if you’re a man. I was never called Mrs Truman, though I was called Mrs. Dawson repeatedly. Others called me Mr Truman while others split the difference and went with Mr Dawson. Incidentally, there is a regular teacher by the name of Truman (this would be more surprising if you knew how much less common my actual last name is), so they were familiar with the name. One of the first graders in the other class was the son of the teacher. So when I met the other first grade class, I got a wave of “Hi, Mr Truman!” greetings. They were better with my name than my class actually was.

In other ways, though, I think being a man worked for me. With a couple of notable exceptions, the boys were better behaved than the girls. The boys seemed particularly eager to please. Even a couple that, when I first looked at them, immediately thought “these are going to be trouble.” The two trouble-making boys involved one boy that was… slow. Depending on who you believe, he either behaved very immaturely towards this other student or this other student was picking on him. The other student was pre-identified as something of a troublemaker. The slow kid was pre-identified as slow. Those were the only two pre-identifications I got.

Both the boys and the girls, but particularly the boys, felt the need to point out how very tall I am. One pointed out my huge feet. She later (I think it was her) rode on my feet by hugging me and stepping on them. She got a real kick out of it when I started to walk. I got a few hugs over the course of the (overall short) day. And those that were in afterschool daycare all yelled “Hi Mr Truman!” (outside of the classroom they were all able to remember my name?) whenever I walked past.

There were two girls that immediately set themselves up as my special helper. One was particularly smart (the only one not to miss a single item on either the reading or the math papers I corrected) and came across as something of a goody-goody. Ordinarily, I kind of look at kids like that with skepticism, but boy did I need the help. The second struck me as being kind of manipulative. Very socially aware. She taught me the magic action that makes the entire class be quiet and look at me (for some reason, the Dawson didn’t put this in her notes). Dawson gave me this magic blue card to give to the best student. I think I am more or less obligated to give it to the goody-goody. Another girl, not in my class, was also really helpful during reading (they track readers, so I got the best readers of both first grade classes for reading).

The other girls, though, were loud. And far more rambunctious than the boys. I had to spend more time telling the girls than the boys to settle down. Another girl was constantly telling me “I’m gonna be sick” and was just gloomy. I thought she was sick, but the other teacher warned me off of indulging her on this. She apparently gets sick whenever anything stressful happens, which a substitute teacher constitutes. Both boys and girls abused bathroom privileges, but when I told them to be quick about it they were. I wasn’t going to risk an accident, and as long as they weren’t roaming the halls, it was a failing I could live with.

Relatedly, first graders think it’s awesome if you say, in lieu of “be quiet”, “everybody, be cool.”

I didn’t get everything done that I was supposed to. I couldn’t find a book that I needed and a little got lost in the information overload. Most unfortunate because there were times when I was struggling to come up with something for these kids to do. They finished their arts & crafts project in record time. Unfortunately, everybody started looking at me and it’s hard to get first graders to be quiet long enough to decipher long-winded, quasi-legible handwriting. That was the downside to the fullproof “everybody be quiet” word and motion. They all go really quiet, and they all look at you. You only get a few seconds before you lose them again. However, once I started reading them stories, though, it was all good.

Tomorrow is a full day. Fortunately for me, it includes an assembly and a Valentine’s Day Party. Unfortunately for me, three kids can’t go to the assembly and so I am not going to get that time to read up on the lesson plan for tomorrow (which I meant to bring home and type up, but forgot). The Valentine’s Day Party will have a local parent coming to help out. Because I forgot to bring the lesson plan home, however, I am going to have to get into work earlier than planned. I’m probably going to need to get up at 5:30am.

But on the whole, it was a surprisingly good day.


Category: School

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

6 Responses to A Run-Down of My First Day

  1. Nanani says:

    Apparently, some actually say Mrs even if you’re a man

    Strange. Interesting. It’s like they think “Mrs” means “teacher”. I wonder how long it takes them to figure out what the word means in the rest of the world.

    Good luck with day two.

  2. trumwill says:

    They started really getting it right on the second day. Some settled on Teacher, but few called me Dawson. I did get a few more Mrs., though.

  3. Maria says:

    Keep up the good work, Will–I’m sure you are doing fine. The hand that rocks the cradle (or wields the dryboard markers and eraser!) is the hand that rules the world!!!!

  4. Maria says:

    One more note: when I was in first grade all I really wanted to do was be called up to the front to handle the feltboard. We had this cool feltboard with cute little cut out animals of felt that stuck to it. The animals were moved around the board to demonstrate math sums.

    We had one in second grade too. For two whole years, I raised my hand dutifully, but was never called up to use the feltboard. It was my major regret in primary school.

    Let the quiet kids use the feltboard (or whatever the equivalent is today) once in awhile 🙂

  5. trumwill says:

    Thanks for the support, Maria. 🙂

  6. Escapist says:

    My 2 cents: The first day (or week) of 1st grade was ok (the adventure/novelty factor), then it was downhill from there (it turned into drudgery really fast, plus some nastiness from the other kids)

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